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Japan Unveils "Robot Suit" That Enhances Human Power

This combo picture, taken 10 May 2005, shows Tsukuba University postgraduate student Takeru Sakurai wearing the powered-suit 'HAL-5' (Hybrid Assistive Leg), developed by Professor Yoshiyuki Sankai, lifts a woman during a press preview of the prototype robot at the 2005 World Expo AIchi at Nagakute town near Nagoya. Japan has taken a step into the science-fiction world with the release of a 'robot suit' that can help workers lift heavy loads or assist people with disabilities climb stairs. AFP Photo by Yoshikazu Tsuno.
Tokyo (AFP) Jun 07, 2005
Japan has taken a step into the science-fiction world with the release of a "robot suit" that can help workers lift heavy loads or assist people with disabilities climb stairs.

"Humans may be able to mutate into supermen in the near future," said Yoshiyuki Sankai, professor and engineer at Tsukuba University who led the project.

The 15-kilogram (33-pound) battery-powered suit, code-named HAL-5, detects muscle movements through electrical-signal flows on the skin surface and then amplifies them.

It can also move on its own accord, enabling it to help elderly or handicapped people walk, developers said.

The prototype suit will be displayed at the World Exposition that is currently taking place in Aichi prefecture, central Japan.

Japan has seen a growing market for technology geared toward the elderly, who are making up an increasing chunk of the population as fewer younger Japanese choose to start families.

A government report last week showed that pensioners made up a record 19.5 percent of the country's population in 2004 and that the ratio will grow rapidly, surpassing 35 percent in 2050.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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Shall We Dance? Robots Offer A Hand On The Ballroom Floor
Chino, Japan (AFP) Jun 05, 2005
Ballroom dancing is no longer just for the romantic. Japanese researchers have developed a robot capable of taking to the floor by predicting how its human partner will move.



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